COLUMBIA — Zaire Taylor and Marcus Denmon can both shoot – and shoot well – from 3-point range. They combined to make six 3-pointers in the Missouri men’s basketball team’s 94-79 win against Austin Peay on Sunday at Mizzou Arena. But right now, no Tiger is shooting better than Kim English.
That’s why, with 30 seconds left in the first half, Taylor and Denmon each passed up wide open 3-point attempts to get the ball to English, who wound up being the least open of the three. But the sophomore guard, coming off a game-high 24-point outing against Illinois, caught the pass from Denmon and made his third 3-pointer of the half with a hand in his face.
Missouri's (9-3) leading scorer the past four games, English has emerged as the Tigers’ primary scorer, a role left vacant after DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons graduated. English was in a funk during Missouri’s two exhibition games and the season-opener, but he has scored in double figures in all but one game since.
“I believe that he used to fade a little bit to the left when he shot, and now he’s more straight up,” forward Laurence Bowers said. “His confidence has been building up (since the start of the season).”
Coming into the game, English had taken 140 shots through Missouri’s first 11 games, 54 more than Denmon, who had the second-most attempts. But Bowers insists Missouri doesn’t have a main scoring option.
“When he’s (English) hot, he’s hot. We don’t have a go-to guy,” Bowers said. “We’re the ultimate team, but when Kimmie has it going, we’re going to keep feeding him the ball.”
English shot over 50 percent (eight of 14) from the field on Sunday and made three of six 3-point attempts to lead the Tigers with 23 points. Missouri shot even better as a team – 62 percent from the field and 10 of 19 from 3-point range.
While the Tigers ran away with the win, Austin Peay (8-6) picked apart Missouri’s press at the start of the game, and the Governors' first four baskets were uncontested layups. They kept pace with Missouri until the closing minutes of the first half. After Austin Peay tied the score at 30 with 7:23 left in the half, the Tigers started to force turnovers with their press and ended the half on a 21-5 run to lead 51-35.